Friday, May 24, 2013

Join the Flock!

     I was thrilled and honored to be selected last November to be an Ambassador for the Oiselle Team.  I still pinch myself on a regular basis knowing that I am part of such a great group of women.  Not only do I have great running clothes now, I have the support of a great online community of women runners.  I even had the privilege of meeting a few of them at The Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler in DC in April of this year. 
     I became familiar with this great company last year after reading about them on Twitter.  All I can say is "they had me at Roga." If you haven't tried any of the clothes from Oiselle, I urge you to choose this as your first purchase.  They are like no other shorts I've run in.  Super comfortable, extremely flattering, with no bagginess, bunching, wedgies or chafing.  Once I tried their clothes, I was hooked.  Then I started seeing on twitter that there was a great community of women runners, including the leader of the company, Sally Bergesen.  I loved how she seemed so approachable, real and supportive of all her company's  runners. I began to dream of being part of the team.  I emailed the team manager, Kristin, and she quickly responded to me with a team application.  I jumped at the chance to apply, but was really unsure if I was what they were looking for. I typically am a middle of the packer, with a few placings in my age group category at smaller races.  But I knew that I was passionate about running, fitness and health.  I also knew that I was passionate about women in running and in companies that promote a strong, powerful image of women runners.  So, I applied. And to my delight and surprise, I was accepted!!  Since I joined the team, I have felt such support from all the team members online.  It is very motivating to know that you will have the team members checking your race result on Monday afternoon! And the well-wishes, advice and running tips are great.  I especially appreciate the team manager, Kristin for her prompt reply to my questions and concerns during the last 6 months, and to her quick response when I request that she correct one of my race times.  I felt silly asking when it was only a few seconds off, but she assured me that "every second counts"! She makes everyone on the team feel special, and I truly appreciate that. Thanks Kristin!
    The Oiselle Team is now looking for new applications and I immediately contacted all my running buddies to encourage them to apply for the team. I know that there are many ladies out there that are passionate about running, love to compete, love to motivate and encourage others.  I urge you to apply for this team.  Join a team where women from all over the country are supported in not only their running endeavors, but also in more personal ways as well.  I love to see how team members will step up in any way possible to help their fellow team members, even though they only know them "virtually". 
 You will also be joining a team that includes several Elite runners, soon to be called "Haute Volee" (high flyers).  I am honored to be on  a team that includes such fantastic women such as Lauren Fleshman, Kate Grace, and many others.  You will have access to the advice and experience of these super women and know that they support you as well.
 So, to summarize; Rogas, motivation, friendship, advice and support.  What else could you possibly want? Apply today! www.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Race #5: Nike Women's 1/2 Marathon DC

This is my 3rd Nike Women's race I've done since 2010, the other 2 being full marathons in San Francisco in 2010 and 2011.  I was really impressed by the races in San Francisco, so I decided to enter the lottery for the inaugural 1/2 marathon race in Washington DC. I was fortunate enough to get in. My best friend, Michele, also got in.  Bonus!!
 We quickly began planning our "girls getaway" weekend and training for the race.  The time just flew by and before we knew it, the weekend was upon us.  We met in Springfield, VA on Friday afternoon, where we were parking our cars for the weekend.  Michele had driven up from NC, and had driven down from PA.  We took the metro into the city and headed to our hotel, The State Plaza Hotel, which is located in the Foggy Bottom section of DC. It is a great location, just 5 minutes walk from the metro,and 15-20 minute walk to many other DC attractions, including the National Mall. Plus, with the marathon there was a special rate which made it affordable for the weekend.
  Friday night was spent catching up, and enjoying a nice dinner at Tonic Restaurant. This was within the George Washington University campus, so casual yet trendy.  We enjoyed burgers, tator tots and beers. Very tasty!
  Saturday morning we headed to the "Expotique" in Georgetown.  We were there early enough that there was no line to pick our numbers.  The expo was a bit underwhelming to me.  I thought the ones in San Francisco (and at other large races for that matter) were much better.  My favorite part was the Nuun Hydration stand.  They had two representatives from Nuun, plus several flavors mixed to try.  I also picked up some cool drink coasters and tattoos.  Michele tried Nuun for the first time, and she was very impressed. We were both excited to have Nuun on the race course the next day!
We didn't partake in the Paul Mitchell hair styling, the makeup application, or trying on Nike shoes.  We did stop at the Luna Bar display and grabbed a few samples.  The only place you could by any race essentials was outside the expo, in a separate small tent.  We went there to buy some Nuun (tubes were only $5 each, plus if you bought 2, you would get a free "Run DC" waterbottle).
Very cool! The only other things for sale were some gels, foam rollers and body glide.  Nothing like other expos.  The Georgetown Nike store was right down the street, so we decided to take a walk through to see if anything looked worth buying.  On the way, we found our names on the wall of names of racers.  This is one of the favorite things that Nike does at their races.  It is pretty cool to see your name printed like that.  There were actually 3 Nicole Harts!! (I beat their times at the race, btw. And they are in the 20-24 age group). Not bad for an old lady.

We were not that impressed with the merchandise at the Nike store, and we were both hoping that the race t-shirt would be cute enough to be our souvenir for the race. Plus, Oiselle has stolen my heart, and I don't buy any other running apparel. :)

Really worth the hype!
 The rest of the day was spent going to Georgetown Cupcakes, watching boat races on the Potomac, seeing some of the national monuments, and sitting on Einstein's lap. .  It was a beautiful day, so walking around and taking breaks on the park benches was great.
This is in front of the Science Museum
  We headed back to hotel before dinner to rest up so that our legs would still be fresh for the race.  We later ate at Filomena's Ristorante in Georgetown, which Michele had found with a recommendation from a friend.  It did not disappoint! I had a homemade pasta dish of Black Linguine with seafood, which was great. The ladies in the photo make the pasta right in the front of the restaurant.  After a complimentary amaretto after the meal, we decided to skip dessert and head back to the hotel to get some rest.

  Sunday morning we were up early (4:45) to eat a bagel, have a coffee and some Nuun before heading to the metro at 5:45.  We arrived at the race site at 6:10, and got in line for the porta potties. There were not nearly enough for all of the runners, so the lines were ridiculous.  We ended up standing in line for 40 minutes!!! That is completely unacceptable at a race this size.  By the time we finished, the announcer was telling everyone to get in their corrals in five minutes (6:45) because they were closing the corrals.  We attempted to make our way to our corrals (7:30-8:59 and 9:00-9:59). We could not figure out how to get up there. There was no entrance to that part of the start. The only place there was an entrance was at the 10:00-11:59 pace corral. We had no choice but to stand there and wait for the race to start.  I was pretty frustrated, knowing that I would have to maneuver around thousands of people to get to my pace.  I tried to keep a happy mood, but inside I was pretty stressed.  It was not easy to be unhappy though. The energy of this race was great, as have all the Nike races I have done.  They play great music, get you pumped up before the race.  They were announcing Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit-Samuelson at the race, and everyone was cheering.  Next, there was a minute of silence for all the victims of the Boston bombing.  You could have heard a pin drop in this large crowd, as everyone was solemn and respectful.  Then the national anthem, and before we knew it, the race started. 
  We shuffled, and shuffled, and shuffled forward for at least 9-10 minutes before we crossed the line.  I started my watch, started to jog, and then was stopped again.  We were so bottlenecked, that there was no chance to move forward.  This was the case for the first 3 miles!! I would just start going, and then we were down to a walk when the road narrowed.  There were so many walkers, even in the first mile.  There was no race etiquette in this race.  Many people had lined up way ahead of where they should have been. My first miles were 9:46, 9:32, 8:46.  I was finally able to move into a pretty good pace.  I knew at this point that I wouldn't be able to make my sub 1:50 goal.  I was feeling pretty negative for the first couple of miles, swearing under my breath ( F***ing GO!), etc. Finally, after the 3rd mile I decided I would let go of the negative energy and just try to enjoy the race.  I was feeling great physically, I knew I could hold a pretty good pace, and this is just a feel good kind of race.  The crowd support along the course, and the music were great. I especially liked the drummers that performed in the tunnels that we ran through.  Talk about palpable energy! Amazing! Once I let go of my "A" goal, I was able to try to enjoy the race. I didn't worry about my pace. I just ran by feel, just pushing but not going "all out".  I settled into an average pace of about 8:15-8:30.  I felt great and very strong physically, which was so empowering.  I really enjoyed running along, and I passed SO many people. It actually began to feel pretty fun! By the time we went up the last incline around mile 12, I decided I would run all out and finish as strong as possible.  I crossed the finish line with my hand over my heart in honor of the victims in Boston, and moved into the finish chute.  My time was 1:55:12.  Not a PR, but a positive experience for me as a runner. 
  I collected my "little blue box" with my Tiffany necklace from a nice guy in a tux, and kept moving to get water, fruit, Luna Bar and finisher t-shirt.  Michele and I had agreed to meet at the "stretching tent", so I headed that way.  That is another thing I like about these races. If you need to get down and stretch at the end, they have mats to sit down on, foam rollers, and even someone directing you with stretches. I didn't need it this time, but it is great to have.  Some ladies were getting their hair and makeup done at the end of the race, but this seemed a bit silly to me. Just give me a hot shower and a chance of clothes please!! There was a huge line for the "finishers boutique" where you could buy more Nike apparel from the race, but why would you want to do that? The t-shirt we received was a very nice dry fit shirt in very nice colors.  Good enough for me!
 Michele finished in just over 2 hours, and we lined up for some photos.  Unfortunately, there was no official photographers at the finish, or even along the race course, as we found out later.  So, we just took photos of the ladies in front of us, and they repaid us the favor.  Good thing for cell phones.  Michele and I did a really dorky "jump" photo, which cracked us up. Great memory from our race!
 So, all in all, we had a great day.  These Nike races are really geared towards women, and especially to a  "girls get-together" type of weekend.  I couldn't imagine doing one without at least one friend.  It would seem pretty isolating to be on your own.  Michele and I had a great time the whole weekend.  We have many great memories to take with us.  And the Tiffany necklace is a special bonus! Makes it all worth it. I would recommend this race to anyone who likes a "girls" race. It would be ideal for a first half marathon, when a time goal may not be an issue.

Did you run the Nike 1/2 in DC, or any of the ones in SF?
Have you been able to move forward from negative feelings during a race when things weren't going your way?